March 22 – Happy Birthday Rich Monteleone
Most Yankee fans remember today’s Pinstripe Birthday celebrant as a former Yankee bullpen coach and minor league pitching instructor. He worked for the Yankees in one capacity or another from 1998 until 2008. But I remember Monteleone when he was a Yankee bullpen pitcher in the early nineties. In fact he was a pretty good right-hander for some pretty bad Yankee teams. The Yankees had got him and Claudell Washington from California right after the 1990 season started in exchange for Luis Polonia. Over the next four seasons he fashioned an 18-9 record in pinstripes pitching strictly in a relief role. He became a free agent after the 1994 campaign and signed with San Francisco.
He pitched three more years in the big leagues and one more in Japan before transitioning into coaching. He had one qualification that ideally suited him for a position as a coach in the Yankee organization. He was born and still lived in Tampa, otherwise known as the southern kingdom of George Steinbrenner. Monteleone soon would become a junior member of George’s Tampa based roundtable of baseball advisors.
Other Tampa natives who wore the pinstripes under the reign of King George included Lou Piniella, Dwight Gooden, Tino Martinez, Mike Heath, Fred McGriff, Sam Militello and Gary Sheffield.